Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's steady leadership during the crisis has prompted calls for emergency legislation to extend his term.

The Republican mayor's second term expires Dec. 31, and elected officials are barred by the City Charter from serving more than two terms.

"We are at war," Rabbi Arthur Schneier said in a letter to The New York Times published Tuesday. "Emergency legislation should extend Mayor Giuliani's term for two years. We need the continuity of the Giuliani administration, tried and tested like no other before, to heal the wounds, help us emerge from the rubble and extensive loss of life, and lead the reconstruction and renewal of our city."

The Legislature and Republican Gov. George Pataki would have to enact emergency legislation to extend Giuliani's term.

Legislative leaders on Tuesday said there was little chance for such action.

"I don't think it's something we should bring to Albany, to overturn the will of the people," said state Assembly speaker, Democrat Sheldon Silver.

A call to the governor's spokesman was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Some have also called for amending the City Charter to lift the term limits. That would require a special election and a majority vote by city residents. There has been no move by lawmakers to seek such an election.

Even one of the men seeking to replace Giuliani has suggested the mayor stay on.

"If it was up to me, I'd keep everything in place," City Council Speaker Peter Vallone said earlier this week. "I think in times of crisis, the best thing to do is not make dramatic changes." Later, Vallone seemed to reconsider, saying: "We have to abide by the decisions of democracy."

Giuliani has distanced himself from the speculation and has shared credit for the city's reaction to the crisis.

"It's really been an inspiration the way New Yorkers have responded," he said.

Before the crisis, the mayor's popularity had dipped to 50 percent because of his combative nature and his messy divorce, which dominated headlines for months.